ARC Review: Omega City (Omega City #1) by Diana Peterfreund

ARC Review: Omega City (Omega City #1) by Diana Peterfreund
Omega City
Omega City #1
by Diana Peterfreund

Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade
Publication date: April 28, 2015
by Balzer + Bray

Format: eARC

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Gillian Seagret doesn't listen to people who say her father's a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War–era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to the middle of nowhere, but Gillian knows he's right and plans to prove it.

When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg's diary in her father's mess of an office, she thinks she's found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Dr. Underberg's greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her skeptical younger brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off on a journey into the ruins of Omega City, a vast doomsday bunker deep inside the earth,.

But they aren't alone inside its dark and flooded halls. For while Gillian wants to save her dad's reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg's secrets to light, there are others who will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried . . . forever.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I’m sure that everyone is well aware that the Middle Grade demographic has a lot of adventure books. We have Rick Riordan for example, or the Seven Wonders series by Peter Larangis, and it feels like a new one pops out every year, all following a bunch of kids try to save the world or solve an extremely old riddle that would lead to a secret civilization or something. I love that kind of premise (National Treasure, anybody? That one with Nicolas Cage? I watched that countless times!) but time and time again, the said adventure books failed to amuse or entertain me. I just can’t find myself enjoying any of them. I tried, but every time, I failed to read beyond 20%. Oftentimes, I’d find the writing too poor, or too young, or too forced.

Then, like an angel wrapped in a blinding light, Diana Peterfreund appeared from the heavens and graced me with Omega City, which may now be my most favorite Middle Grade Adventure book ever, ever, ever, ever. 

I’m serious. I love it so, so, so much. First chapter in and I fell hook, line, and sinker.

It’s funny, and not in a manner that feels forced or trying-to-sound-young-yet-failing-miserably. The main characters are 12 year olds (with an addition of an 11th grader) and they really do sound like young kids that are curious and reckless, caring about twelve-year-old things and making jokes that are relevant if you’re from that generation. I loved how the humor was so genuine and real. I read the dialogue and could see myself as them when I was their age. I try to remember any other author who impressed me with their writing of a kid, but try to rack my brain as I may, I could remember none who are even half as real as Peterfreund’s.

“Can we please stop talking about dead bodies and guns and underground monsters?” Eric said. He was swinging his flashlight at every shadow in the room. “Just in general?”

“So it’s fine for a video game but not in real life?” Savannah asked.

“Yes!” Eric shook his head at her, incredulous. “In real life you don’t get to press reset.”

This only goes to show how great of an author Peterfreund is. I absolutely adored her YA books For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across the Dark-Swept Sea, so I really expected a lot from her. I admit that I was scared she wouldn’t be able to effectively write a child’s carefree personality, but Omega City proved me wrong and even went beyond what I could ever hope for.

Imagine, in this book there are  siblings Gillian and Eric, and Peterfreund was able to weave their sibling interaction so fantastically, with a dose of humour every now and then, making the two so endearing and lovable. I absolutely loved how despite being so different, their bond with each other would just glow within the pages. Their conversations were just so awesomely-done that I found myself smiling at almost all of them, because they reminded me how my little brother and I are with each other. Their arguments, casual banters, and protectiveness of one another were simply so captivating. In fact, when I started reading, the first thing I noticed was how their interaction was so realistically-done. I am serious in saying this is probably one of the book’s highlights, because it simply stands out.

“Nope.” I tapped the page. “The scan is date-stamped. Date-stamped last month. Which means that this diary wasn’t destroyed in the flood. Maybe none of Dad’s notes were. Maybe that pipe in the wall didn’t even burst.”

“Don’t joke about that,” said Eric. “I lost my comic book collection and my Playstation in that flood.”

The sibling’s dynamics with the other characters were equally awesome, too! Like Gillian and Eric, they also felt real to me, written in a way that they feel like genuine kids (something other MG adventure books never made me feel about their characters).

“Is this our pizza? Tomato, cheese, and sesame chicken?”

“Should be.”

Savannah cocked her head to the side. ” I don’t think that’s what you’re supposed to say.”

Private Pizza rolled his eyes. “Come on, kid.”

“I think,” Savannah went on coyly, “that if you don’t say it, we get it free.”

He sighed, straightened, and licked his heels together. “I present to you, lovely maiden, this golden disk of the seven heavens, baked by the flame of four noble dragons.” He bowed his head over the pizza box and held it out.

There’s Howard, a strange kid in the same grade, who’s obsessed with anything space-related. He’s a quiet guy, but blabbers nonstop when asked about his favorite topics (which often results to hilarious “Uh, here we go again!” thoughts). There’s Savannah, Gillian’s best friend, who is a smart cookie, but masks it all in an airhead-like aura to make herself more popular in school. She’s an amazing side-kick to Gillian, always game to support her in her endeavors even if they seem far-fetched. She also  has a crush on Nate, an 11th grader who works as a pizza delivery guy. He’s Howard’s brother and acts as their chaperone and is probably the most regrettful of the group when they find themselves in an adventure they’d never forget. Seriously, I love them all, too. Different personalities, and yet they all mash together really well.

“Nate,” Howard protested, turning to his brother. “You promised.”

Nate’s expression was unreadable, but he stared at his brother for a full two seconds. Howard, surprisingly, stared back. Right away, Nate’s expression softened. “Okay. But you guys have to swear you’ll do exactly as I say.”

We all nodded.

“And that the second I say we’re going home, we go home.”

We all nodded again.

He sighed. “I’m going to regret this. I knew as soon as you two girls showed up at the door I was going to regret this. Get in.”

As for the adventure itself, all I can say is: WOW. That was one of the most awesome adventures I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It had mystery, drama, history, and science fiction mixed, resulting to a formula that this book may have just redefined. We don’t see no Atlantis being discovered, or any lost wonder revealed, but we get an awesome conspiracy thing going on behind the scenes, all derived from a riddle from the diary of who was deemed a crazy scientist back during the Cold War. I don’t really want to spoil anything, but I can certainly assure you that it’s something that will excite you, blow your minds away, and make you wonder of the endless possibilities we as a civilization could have obtained if we were not clouded by greed, if we did not hinder progression for the sake of achieving our own selfish agendas. It will make you think back, and wonder, and wonder, and wonder.

And that, my friends, is its beauty.

All in all, hats off to Diana Peterfreund. She made an MG adventure story that even I could appreciate and love, and created a cast of characters so easy to relate to and hold dear to your heart. This is how adventure books should be, folks. This is how they should be.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Impact
Overall: 5
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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. Laila BC says

    that is high praise from you indeed Faye…i have seldom pick up any MG books now a days but i am happy to trust this recommendation and put this on my tbr :)

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you, Laila! If you’re a fan of adventures and awesome characters with genuine and real dialogue, this is definitely the book for you. I guarantee it!

  2. says

    FAYE. I WILL READ THIS NOW.

    I haven’t read an MG book in so long. If you say that this is awesome, and it does look awesome because I READ ALL THE QUOTES. And that poor kid losing his playstation in the flood. BUT ANYWAYS. This sounds good. If I see it I will borrow it. :D oh this means I’ll have to go to the children’s section. THAT’S OK
    Valerie recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #13My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      You better be sure to read it, Val :P I’ll be quizzing you one of these days… AHA!

      I am definitely serious in saying that this book is made of all kinds of awesomesauce. And reaklly, I loved my Playstatio when I was 12 years old, I wouldn’t have been as chill as Eric if I were in his shoes hahaha.

  3. says

    MG is an unchartered territory for me because of the very things you mentioned above. I feel like there’s not much room for variety. I’m wrong, of course, because I can’t claim such things when I don’t really read them. :D Have you tried The Unwanted series by Lisa McMann? I hear great things.
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    • FayeFaye says

      Joy, you seriously need to read more MG. I mean, Harry Potter started as one, didn’t it? It simply grew up with it readers along the way. If you have to read an MG, please at least try Omega City. I’ll give you a cookie if it disappoints (which I doubt will ever, ever happen).

  4. says

    I LOVE THE ELEVENTH GRADER NOW, TOO! FOR HIM I SHALL READ THIS BOOK.

    But no, really. I agree with you on the forced-ness, boring adventures and National Treasure thingies. So I guess, it goes without saying Imma add this book even though I wasn’t a big fan of that darkness book.
    Stuti recently posted…Absolutely AlmostMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      And if you do that, my friend, I will love you long time. No bloody joke!

      Yeah, I just can’t find myself digging the MG we have right now on mainstream literature. This one by Diana Peterfreund definitely changes the game in a lot of ways.

    • FayeFaye says

      Rhea would love it. I love it as an Adult (WHAT I AM AN ADULT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!) and I’m sure little Rhea would love it as well. It’s such an intelligent book too and I’m certain Rhea will learn lots from it!

  5. says

    OH MY GOSH. COMPLETely 5 STARS?!! Where is this book, I need it like, now. I love MG, but I like MG that’s written intelligently. Gah. I’ve read my fair share of painful adventures where the writing just seems incredibly dumbed down. Which isn’t right! 12 year olds are intelligent humans who are capable of reading a smart story. Look at Riordan?! He mixes hilarity and intelligent plots perfectly.*nods* I’m adding this book on goodreads for sure.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…STOP Apologising!My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean. When I was 12, that was when I wrote my first full-length novel, and I assure you that I can read more than the books they publish for 12 year olds these days that seem are for first graders D: this Mg will definitely suit your palate, Cait. It’s fun, it’s smart, it’s witty, and it’s written so, so good. Diana Peterfreund is the writer, so how could anyone expect any less from the master?

  6. says

    This book sounds so interesting and the cover is pretty! The adventure is one thing I love about Middle Grade stories, they always have a different feel and focus then YA and older. And the characters in this book sounds really well done. I enjoyed reading the quotes you included in this review. Great review! Just added this book to my to-read list!
    Lola recently posted…Sunday Post #100My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, it was the adventure thing here and how seamless and natural they were that really, really attracted me… aside from the awesomness of the characters, of course ;) They were simply just awesome, and I loved how I never got bored and always looked forward to the next clue!

  7. says

    after reading your review, i’m convinced that faye, you are a talented writer. HOW HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS BOOK BEFORE?? you make it sound like a book reader’s staple food: awesome characters who are hilarious and befitting of their age, adventures that are (not childish) WOWZA, and written by Diana Peterfreud no less. i absolutely adored For Darkness Shows the Stars and omg i have to read her MG fiction now <333
    alicia recently posted…that ’20 things’ about me tagMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Haha, thank you so much… many people have told me that I can be quite persuasive ;) It’s the fact that she wrote those two beautiful books that made me really believe that she could write an MG, too, and I was not wrong. She’s a force to reckon with!

  8. says

    Oooh, a 5 star review from FAYE. Must read Must Read!! I think I’ve seen the author’s name before around Goodreads but I didn’t think she writes MG. Hmm, is this her first MG? Anyway, I’m so glad you loved it, Faye. :) First chapters are important to me, sometimes I give up on reading just because the first chapter isn’t a hit to me. And in here you also loved the characters?! YAY!!! Great review as always. Just added! :D
    Paula M. @ Her Book Thoughts! recently posted…ARC REVIEW: Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons a.k.a let’s talk about XMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Awww, Paula, you definitely give me too much credit ;) The author is pretty well-known around the blogosphere, actually, especially since she has two amazing YA classic retellings~ Her first MG and she already had it down pat.

  9. says

    Wow, I rarely ever see five star ratings from you, so this really made me curious! I’m not a huge fan of MG for the same reasons you’ve mentioned Faye. Sometimes the author just doesn’t capture the innocence and carefree nature of a kid and that ruins the story completely when the believability factor is zero. The mystery here sounds so awesome – cold war?! Wow! I’ve so intrigued by this book! I will keep an eye out for it in the book store. Wonderful review lovely xx
    Joy @ Thoughts By J recently posted…Mockingjay Part 1 Sydney Premiere!My Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      Yup – I tried the first book of the Percy Jackson series and I seriously wanted to punch myself because I kept getting annoyed by it. If I want MG, I want genuinely feeling MG characters, unless they have a reason to be mature beyond their years. AND YES! The mystery is just top-notch, girl. You definitely should give it a try.

  10. says

    I’m not your typical MG reader but I always like finding gems like this one to show my little sister who devours them. You’ve given this one such high praise Faye, even i’m tempted to now give it a shot! I’m intrigued about the whole “cold war” thing and how it’s going to play a factor in the story. Lovely review :)
    Lily recently posted…Sublime: ReviewMy Profile

    • FayeFaye says

      I hope you give it a shot, too, Lily, not just your little sister! It’s really such a good read and I love it to bits and pieces. It’s just so cleverly done!

  11. says

    Five stars for a middle grade?!!!! Uhh adding to TBR and reading ASAP. Also really like that cover.
    “Then, like an angel wrapped in a blinding light, Diana Peterfreund appeared from the heavens and graced me with Omega City” is officially my favorite line. Ever.
    Olgia recently posted…Loony Blurbs: November EditionMy Profile

  12. says

    FIVE STARS?!? WOW! That’s quite a lot of praise you’ve thrown out Faye! ;) I’m not usually a fan of middle grade, but your glowing review has definitely convinced me to give this a try regardless of that fact. I love adventure stories, so I am really excited to see how this one is written. Thanks for sharing Faye and, as always, fabulous review! <3
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  13. says

    Wow, what an amazing review! I’m ecstatic that you liked this book so much! I have only vaguely heard of the author’s YA work – haven’t read it yet – but now I will definitely give those books a try. I wish to God I were a middle-grade fan, just so I could read this book that’s earning of much of praise! I literally laughed out loud at some of those extracts, and again, wow, just wow. Beautiful and powerful, Faye :)
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  14. says

    I don’t normally read Middle Grade books (with the exception of books like Percy Jackson/ Harry Potter, where they grow in age with every book) but damn if your review didn’t make me want to read this book lol
    It sounds like a lot of fun, and I’m all for books with genuine voices.
    I’m curious, as you mentioned Rick Riordan in the beginning, did you not like Percy Jackson? And did you feel like this book was better than Percy Jackson?
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